Blood in Stool -- Causes and Cures
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Last updated July 14, 2017, originally published May 23, 2011

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Spotting blood in the stool is one of the symptoms most likely
to scare you into thinking you have a serious disease.  Should
you be worried? Does blood in the stool signify a dangerous
condition? When does blood in your stool mean an annoying,
benign condition and when could it be something worse, like
cancer? Is there any way to prevent blood in the stool?

How common is rectal bleeding? A 1997 study from doctors at
the University of Sidney Department of Medicine found that
about 14% of us experience bloody stools. As the study found:
"In otherwise healthy young and middle-aged persons,
approximately one in seven have a history of rectal bleeding".

Blood can appear when you wipe, in the stools themselves or
dark blood mixed with stools.

The color of the blood in your stool may vary from bright red
to maroon or dark red/ black. Rectal bleeding, also known as
"hematochezia", produces bright red blood. Black or deep red
blood in the stool, which is also sticky or “tarry” in consistency,
is called "melena" (also spelled "melaena").

If you see dark blood in your stool, call emergency services and
get to a hospital. More than 10% of patients with this type of
melena die, according to a 2004 report led by Dr. K. Palmer of
the Department of Gastroenterology, Western General Hospital,
in Edinburgh.


Whenever your stools are black or tarry, it indicates a major
gastrointestinal hemorrhage has already occurred, according to
Dr. Dodd Wilson, from the book "Hematemesis, Melena, and
Hematochezia" published in 1990.  Dr. Todd notes that it takes
50 ml of blood in your stomach to turn your stools black. 50 ml
is about 2 ounces or 1/4 of a cup.]

In general, dark blood is more serious than bright red blood.
As we've noted, dark blood in your stool can indicate acute
bleeding in your upper gastrointestinal tract.

Sometimes you won’t see any blood because the bleeding is
too slow, but it will show up in medical tests. (
Learn what
other bowel colors mean.)

We’ve hunted down the reasons why you may have blood in
your stool. Some are more common than others. If you spot
blood in your stool you should consult a healthcare
professional to rule out the more serious, less common
conditions that cause this worrying symptom.

What Causes Blood in Stools?

1. Hemorrhoids Are One Of The Most Common Causes Of
Blood In Your Stool

If you suffer from spotting or bleeding from the anus you are
more than likely to suffer from hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are
clumps of tissue within the anus that can either protrude or
affect the internal lining of the anus.

Hemorrhoids are common – according to 1990 research from
the Department of Medicine, Veterans Administration Medical
Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 10 million people in the United
States complain of hemorrhoids.

That’s 4.4 percent of the population. Actually, hemorrhoids are
in everyone. But it’s only when the masses of tissue grow
bigger that they cause the typical itchy and painful problem.
Why are some people unlucky enough to suffer? Theories
include a lack of fiber, prolonged straining on the toilet, and

How can you prevent or treat this common cause of blood in
the stool? Spend more time on your feet, get regular exercise,
eat enough fiber and try bioflavonoids.

Colorful bioflavonoids are found in fruits and vegetables and
there is some evidence that the citrus bioflavonoids diosmin
and hesperidin can help treat hemorrhoids.

A 1994 study from Hôpital Rothschild, Paris, France found a
combination of diosmin and hesperidin significantly reduced the
frequency and severity of hemorrhoids in the 120 individuals
trialed. The bioflavonoids were also reported to ease the pain
of hemorrhoids. (
Read more about how to effectively treat

It's important to try to get these flavonoids from actual fruit,
rather than from supplements, if you can.

An Anal Fissure Can Cause Blood in the Stool

An anal fissure is a tear or a cut in the anus – the part of the
body the stool passes through when you go to the bathroom.

As you would expect, a tear or cut in the anus causes bleeding
and this is one reason why you see blood in your stool.
Fissures also cause pain when you try for a bowel movement,
which figures because it’s usually a bowel movement that
causes the trauma.

An anal fissure can happen during a bout of diarrhea, or when
a hard stool passes. Anal fissures are also common during
childbirth. To treat an anal fissure doctors recommend adding
bulk to the stool and softening it with a high fiber diet. You can
also take stool-softening medications.

In addition, the gotu kola plant (a creeping plant that grows in
subtropical areas) is thought to strengthen the connecting
tissues in the body and thus may be useful for treating blood in
the stool from an anal fissure.

A 1999 study from the Central Drug Research Institute,
Lucknow, India showed that extracts from the plant increased
collagen content and connective tissue strength in a guinea pig
wound trial. Psyllium – a fiber from the Plantago ovata plant –
dissolved in water is used to help constipation and make it
easier for people with an anal fissure to pass stools easily.

Bowel or Colon Cancer Causes Blood in the Stool

Many people are worried about the possibility of bowel cancer
when they spot blood in their stool. According to the American
Cancer Society, 143,000 new Americans suffer from bowel or
colon cancer each year and according to the National Cancer
Institute, 51,370 people die from the disease annually.

Bowel or colon cancer is the third most common cause of
cancer-related death in the United States. Is it likely that blood
is a symptom of bowel cancer? While blood in the stool is not
likely to be a sign of cancer, you should get it checked out
because it is one of the symptoms of this form of the disease.

If caught early, bowel cancer can be successfully treated in 90
percent of cases. If left untreated, the cancer can travel and
cause fatal damage to other parts of the body.

Sticking to a healthy diet can help prevent colon or bowel
cancer. According to the UK’s 2011 Scientific Advisory
Committee on Nutrition, we should limit our daily consumption
of red meat to the equivalent of three slices of ham, one lamb
chop or two slices of beef a day – around 70g – and cut out all
processed meats to cut our risk of bowel cancer.

Once you’ve cut down on red meat, increase your fiber intake
through regular consumption of fruit and vegetables, whole
grains and cereals. A report initiated by the European
Prospective Investigation of Cancer in 1992 concludes that
people who eat the most fiber have a 40 percent lower risk of
bowel cancer than those that eat the least fiber. (
List of fiber
rich foods. )

Bloody Diarrhea Means Blood In Your Stool

You’ll know when you’ve got diarrhea – loose, watery, and
frequent stools that cause you discomfort, embarrassment and

The most common cause of diarrhea is a viral infection also
called the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis. You’ll also
experience diarrhea, if you’re unlucky, when you’re travelling.

In this case, contaminated water or food causes the condition.
Diarrhea usually passes without serious complications, in a few
days. But if you have bloody diarrhea, consult your doctor. E.
coli infection is a leading cause of bloody diarrhea. E. coli
infections occur when you’ve eaten undercooked beef or drank
contaminated water or unpasteurized milk. The infection can be
passed from person to person – it is
very contagious.

Colon Polyps Can Cause Bloody Stools

Juts what are the strangely named colon polyps? Colon polyps
are common and you’re more likely to suffer from one or more
above the age of 60. Colon polyps are growths of flesh that
take root in the lining of the colon (the large intestine). They
can cause blood to appear in your stool.

Colon polyps are benign but they need monitoring as certain
types become cancerous as they grow.

Calcium is said to reduce the occurrence of colon polyps. A
1999 study by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center,
Lebanon showed 3g daily of calcium carbonate cut the
incidence of colon polyps by 24 percent, in the 832 individuals

Crohn's Disease Can Also Cause Blood in Stools

If you notice blood in your stool, it could be a sign of Crohn's
disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that affects
the intestines and can affect the anus.

Crohn's disease and another inflammatory condition called
ulcerative colitis are often referred to together as inflammatory
bowel disease.

With Crohn’s disease, your immune system acts in an abnormal
way without being triggered by a true “invader”. This
abnormal behavior results in inflammation. While the exact
causes of Crohn’s disease are largely unknown, it is thought
that infection may be responsible. Other symptoms include
fever, abdominal pain and tiredness.

Is Diverticulitis A Cause Of The Blood In Your Stool?

Diverticulitis (diverticulosis or diverticuli disease) is a condition
characterized by inflamed or infected pouches in the colon.

The condition causes bloody stools when the pouches are
ruptured, as well as laying you low with abdominal pain,
nausea and fever.

Diverticulitis is common in developed countries like the U.S. and
the U.K and it is believed that the relatively low levels of fiber
we eat is the main reason for its prevalence.

According to studies such as a 2002 review of the impact of
high-fiber diets on diverticular disease, undertaken by
Nutritionals at Whitehall-Robins Inc, Mississauga, evidence
indicated that fiber is strongly associated with a lower risk of
diverticular disease and a diet high in fiber and low in fat could
help prevent diverticular disease. (Read more about
foods rich
in fiber and fiber's surprising effect on your life expectancy).

A Peptic Ulcer Causes Blood In The Stool

Peptic ulcers, holes in the lining of the stomach or esophagus,
are caused by acid digestive juices eroding this lining.
Aninfection of the stomach by the helicobacter pylori bacteria is
also considered to be a key cause.

A 2005 study from Peking University, Beijing Institute for
Cancer Research, China found daily consumption of cranberry
juice by people who were infected with this virus significantly
reduced their levels of the bacteria, which may lessen the
chances of getting an ulcer.

Taking anti-inflammatory medications, otherwise known as
NSAIDs, including aspirin, in high doses over long periods can
cause an ulcer to develop. Smoking is also a key risk factor in
the development of the peptic ulcers, so stop the habit now to
cut your risk.

When an ulcer causes blood to appear in the stool, the
condition has reached a complicated phase where perforation
has occurred.

Blood In The Stool May Be Caused By Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is a rare but serious cause of blood in the
stool. Early stomach cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms but as
the cancer grows you may suffer blood in the stool, nausea,
discomfort in the stomach, weight loss and bloating. Experts
suggest that if your diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables
you have a lower risk of stomach cancer.

Are there any especially fruits or vegetables? Well, a 1994
study from the Aviano Cancer Center, Italy suggested that
Americans who ate a diet high in tomatoes showed a 50
percent reduced incidence of cancer. This is perhaps due to
lycopene, a beta-carotene-like substance, found in high levels
in tomatoes.

Those who ate at least seven servings of tomatoes a week
developed fewer stomach cancers compared to those who ate
only two servings weekly. Quit smoking and raise your exercise
level to help ward off stomach cancer.

An Uncommon Cause of Blood In The Stool Is Yellow Fever

It is unlikely that the cause of blood in your stool is yellow
fever, unless you have travelled to risk areas within tropical
Africa and South America.

However, there are around 200,000 cases of yellow fever
worldwide each year. Blood in the stool is one symptom, along
with fever, muscle aches, back pain, headache and weakness.
Yellow fever is spread by infected mosquitoes. A vaccine for
yellow fever is available for people travelling to high-risk areas.

Related Links:

Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of

The Color of Your Bowels-- What It Means

Bowels -3 Keys to Normal Bowels

Exercises That Increase Bowel Movements

Diarrhea -10 Essesntial Tips






















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Reducing the amount of red meat you
eat can lower your risk for bloody